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Grieving When Someone Hasn’t Died

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

People have walked out of my life in recent years. What happens when people we love dearly are no longer part of our lives? We grieve.

You are suffering the loss of someone who is still alive because of a divorce, a move, or loss of a job, you are not alone in feeling what you are feeling. For some is a bit more complicated. You might be experiencing grief from a child or a family member who is trapped in addiction, mental illness or another type of illness. This complicated grief for the living is something many of us live with every day. Have you found that your dear friend no longer needs you? That your co-workers no longer approve of you, or that people you used to admire have disappointed you?

It is painful and oppressive, however, ignoring it or thinking that “you will get over it as time goes by” will only delay the process of healing. It can create resentment and jeopardize future relationships with others. You might feel very alone, as this type of grief is not talked about as often and in society, it is not as recognizable as a death. The pain of losing relationships is tremendous, and often we don’t take the time to recognize our grief, we don’t understand that the pain we are feeling is a very deep form of grief. Talk to someone about how you are feeling and allow yourself permission to miss and grieve your loss.

The loss of a loved one that has not died,

can elicit anxiety and sadness. At times you might find yourself remembering happier times and cherishing memories. Other times you might have to soak in the grief that your friend or family member might never come back into your life. There are also those that might know that there are emotional places they just can’t go back to, this also can cause tremendous pain.

Here are some helpful reminders to assist you in your quest to heal and accept “the new normal” in your life.

Feel the grief. Recognize and know that you are grieving and is ok to grieve for those that still live but are no longer a part of your life.

Remember the growth. In your relationship you had periods of growth, remember these. They are a treasure that has helped you in your journey.

Recognize the past and its value. In some cases, your loved one might come back to you. Mental illness that is under control, a child that has survived addictions, or forgiveness, that can provide a road map back through the pathway to healing.

Embrace the “new normal”. After a divorce, we can lose many friends and family members to the conflicts of break up. Losing a job, a career and all those that were part of your life then. One of the greatest realities and inescapable outcomes of grief is our ability to grow as human beings. Our resilience and courage to move forward are immense. You can find great growth that comes from grieving the living. You can learn to use the pain you are enduring to guide you and help you heal. All of us experience the grief of one form or another; it is how we choose to deal with our grief that will determine the extent of our growth. Your ability to heal and grow from your grief is limitless.

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